Montréal, January 20, 2010While Vancouver and Toronto may have boasted the most vibrant art scenes in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, Winnipeg took over in the 2000s, spurred on by artist Marcel Dzama. He quickly carved out an international reputation for his unclassifiable, disconcerting art that reveals a fanciful, anachronistic world. Marcel Dzama – Aux mille tours (Of Many Turns), which offers a critical survey of his haunting yet outrageous work, is the largest solo exhibition of Dzama’s art by a public gallery. It will be presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal from February 4 to April 25, 2010.

Of Many Turns

The exhibition contains some sixty pieces produced over the last three years, including several new works specially created for this event. It comprises a sketchbook, drawings, collages, dioramas, paintings and films, and examines the artist’s favourite themes: nostalgia, early modernism and the relationship between irony and cynicism, politics and subjectivity.

The title Aux mille tours (Of Many Turns) is taken from the prologue to the Odyssey, where Homer introduces Ulysses as “Polytropos,” a man of many twists and turns. Like Ulysses, Dzama’s art is elusive, prolific and multifaceted. His works draw on a rich repertoire of artistic and literary references, from prewar children’s book illustration and Marcel Duchamp to James Joyce and Dante. He also often refers to childhood experiences in his hometown, Winnipeg: landscape, wildlife, the family farm.

Dzama’s strange works elicit a feeling of ambivalence as, nightmare-like, they present recognizable elements in disturbing, violent or even erotic surroundings. His world has something surrealistic about it, like the famous Goya etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

You’re sure to be swept away on a most extraordinary odyssey.

The artist

Marcel Dzama was born in Winnipeg in 1974. He began drawing his own comics as a child. He took up painting at high school and enrolled at the University of Manitoba in 1996. With some fellow students, he founded The Royal Art Lodge, a group of artists who meet weekly to create musical performances and collective works, and at the same time pursue solo careers. While he was still at university, Dzama caught the eye of the Richard Heller Gallery, in Santa Monica, California, with an exhibition at the Fate Gallery in Winnipeg. In 2000, Winnipeg’s Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art organized a one-man show of Dzama’s works, called More Famous Drawings, that travelled across Canada, with a stop at the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montréal. Dzama was featured here again as part of the CIAC Biennale in 2002.

Marcel Dzama has had a number of prestigious exhibitions around the world. His works can be found in the collections of such major museums as MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the Tate Modern in London. The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is especially proud of its acquisition last year of a spectacular work by the artist: a fresco of 300 ceramic sculptures titled On the Banks of the Red River, 2008, and shown here for the first time. Dzama has lived and worked in New York since 2004. He is represented by the David Zwirner Gallery, New York.

Organization and tour

The exhibition was organized by Mark Lanctôt, curator at the Musée. A tour is planned by the MAC to begin in December 2010, following the show’s Montréal presentation.


Marcel Dzama – Aux mille tours (Of Many Turns) is accompanied by a bilingual, 116-page catalogue. The publication contains an essay by Musée and exhibition curator Mark Lanctôt, a list of works, a biobibliography and numerous colour reproductions. It may be purchased for $29.95 at the museum’s Boutique or from your local bookseller.

Meet the artists and curators

On Thursday, February 4 at 4 p.m., the public is invited to share in a discussion between curators Lesley Johnstone, Mark Lanctôt and François LeTourneux, and artists Marcel Dzama, Luanne Martineau and Etienne Zack, about common threads that run through their respective bodies of work. The meeting will take place in English, with a bilingual question period to follow. Length: 90 minutes. In the Atrium. Free admission.


The Musée d’art contemporain is a provincially owned corporation funded by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec. It receives additional funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Source and Information

Anne Dongois
T. 514 826-2050
[email protected]